Episode 257

Secrets to Retaining Long-term Nutrition Clients with Jennifer Broxterman

In this episode, Jennifer Broxterman joins me again on the podcast to talk about how to keep your nutrition program running long term.

[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business Unicorns podcast. I’m so excited to have back on the podcast again for a second time. Jennifer Broman from Prosper Nutrition Coaching. Welcome back, Jennifer. I. Oh my gosh. I have so much fun being here and the unicorns that listen to this podcast.

I think you guys are my favorite audience of any podcast I’ve been on, and I’m not saying that the emails and responses, everyone was just so engaged, I was really impressed. Yeah. I think you’re. Thank you for saying that we do have the best listeners on the planet. We love you. Hi listeners.

And your content was so great. People love the clarity of your instructions, the clarity of your ideas about, and for those of you who didn’t listen to Jennifer’s past episode, we’ll link to it down below. We’ll also link to Prosper Nutrition Coaching down below, and in the last episode.

Jennifer really walked you all through how to start a nutrition coaching practice at your gym. And we went really from soup to nuts about how to get it off the ground and how to [00:01:00] sell it, how to build it, all that. And and our audience really loved that content. We got a lot of great engagement and I’m glad people reached out to you because it was really a really great episode.

So thanks for coming back again and in this one. But before we dive, I’ll tell people what we’re gonna do. In this one. We’re gonna take the next steps now that you know from Jennifer how to start and launch nutrition. Nutrition coaching program. In this episode, we’re gonna talk about how to keep it running, how to keep it going long term.

Before we get into it, Jennifer, for the people who didn’t listen to the last episode, who are you? What is Prosper Nutrition Coaching. Great question. So I am a registered dietician up here in Canada, but I work with people all over the world. So I have two companies in a quick nutshell, my first one is where I do the nutrition coaching, right?

I’m in it, I’m in the field with all of you helping people eat better and maintain those healthy habits for the rest of their life. In nutrition Orx, I also lead a team of coaches. So not only am did I start as a solopreneur, but I’ve had to grow and elevate into those leadership [00:02:00] skills of then bringing on team members to fulfill that company mission.

And then that accidentally birthed a second company, which is in a related field where Prosper Nutrition is, where now I certify and train and mentor. Whether they’re established nutrition coaches looking to grow to that next level, or people that have always aspired to have a nutrition presence in their gym or their, their wellness coaching and they’ve just never fully, got it off the ground all by themselves.

What we do is we give them basically training systems and tools and ready to use client games and resources, and then what I think is so special is we get to mentor them. So as opposed to just, Hey, it’s online, watch the videos, figure it out. There’s that human to human element. Where the coach is there to support them through that launch phase and get them on their own two feet a heck of a lot faster and very successfully.

So that’s what I do. Fantastic. What a great summary. It’s almost like you’ve done this before. Yeah. Yeah. Great summary. And I know there’s a lot of listeners listening right now and unicorn setting members that [00:03:00] have already started using your services and have told me great things about it.

This is just a commercial for you. Go do it, my friends. If you’ve been wanting to level up your game in nutrition coaching or get started, Go talk to Jennifer and her team. The link for Prosper Nutrition coaching. Nutrition Coaching is down below. One more bit of housekeeping before we keep going is it is noisy at my house today.

So on this podcast, I think Jennifer also has some construction outside of her window. You might hear some banging. We’re living in real life here today. We’re showing you behind the scenes of the Business Unicorns podcast and there are a lot of banging out my window. So that being said, let’s dive in.

Regardless of the noise, we’re gonna have a great conversation. Once someone has established a nutrition coaching program, They got it off the ground, they got some clients in it. It’s working, it’s selling. The next thing is like to keep it off the ground to keep it going. And one of the challenges I wanna offer you first to help get your ideas on is that sometimes the clients lose interest.

Sometimes there’s clients who only wanted to do it for a little bit of time and then they wanna do it on their own. There’s [00:04:00] sometimes clients who wanna stay long term but get disengaged at some point. So how do you think about long-term retention in a nutrition coaching program?

Such a smart question. The first is to change, and I don’t wanna make anyone feel bad, but I call it like an immature expectation of the coach, and the immature expectation is that everyone wants to work with us forever, and they’re going to be highly engaged the entire time through the coach to client relationship.

That is not, is just not the case in how human nature works. Yeah. The way I like to think about it hasn’t been my experience. No. And so when coaches start to get mad and they, the pattern happens again and again, and then the coach is wasting energy, feeling mad about it. You’re not growing and you’re not reading and interpreting the situation correctly.

So what I actually tell my own team is I want you to think about it, either like a therapy or massage therapy relationship. So I’ll use both and they’ll both make sense. If I got injured, say in a car accident and I had some [00:05:00] whiplash, I would be very engaged and motivated to go to my massage therapist, see my chiropractor, go to regular treatments, but there’s this natural point in my progress.

Apologies. I, you know when you had those tickles throat? That’s all right. You gotta let it out throat. You gotta let it out. Gimme one. Take your time.

Oh goodness. This is all real life guys. This is how it goes. Sometimes we can also edit. Oh, perfect. Even better. So you guys get it where there’s a point where you just don’t need to go to your massage therapist weekly or every couple of weeks. And so there’s this natural decline, or as you start to feel better, it just slips lower on the priority list.

But if you got hurt again, you wanna go back and be able to work that coach. And so imagine your massage therapist was like you’re a really disengaged client, discharged for life, and so sometimes we see nutrition and health coaches do that where they’re like, They got a little disengaged. They’re a [00:06:00] noncompliant client.

I don’t have time for you. You have a bad attitude. No, they don’t have a bad attitude. They are a real human with real priorities and different things going on, so I look at it a lot like massage or a therapist where I’m here to work with you when you’re really engaged and it’s a real big priority.

I’m also gonna be there from an accountability support because I know. Things in your life are gonna get in your own way. And I’m gonna remind you and touch base without being too pushy that I’m still here. I’m still here to offer support, accountability, guidance. It’s up to you to take me up on that or not.

And then I’m also okay to give someone space. I. But to continue to do what I call relationship deposits, where I check in, I might send something. If I’m thinking about them, I might drop a book suggestion that came to mind without any expectation that in that moment they’re ready to come back and work with me.

It’s just maintaining the relationship for the long term through relationship deposits, and you never know if they’re gonna come [00:07:00] back. Or if they have someone in mind that they’re gonna say a word of mouth referral to. And so I think of every client as a client for life. But am I actively seeing every client in my roster every single month?

I. No. Is that okay? Absolutely. Yes. And so to me that’s the difference in a more nuanced understanding of the coach’s role and the relationship with the client. And that more immature of like, why doesn’t everyone just wanna work with me ex exactly. On my timeline as much as I want them to be engaged.

Yeah. That’s not reality. That’s not reality. Human nature and coaching. Yeah. Come on. People don’t get mad, get curious. Just dive in and find out what’s going on with them. What’s a priority they have on their list that’s above. Their goals they set with you. I think that’s a great way of putting it.

And I think, I think everyone’s gonna steal that language, Jennifer, of relationship deposits. I think it’s so smart. It’s Brene Brown talks about this trust marbles that, when you are working with someone, you put little marbles in a jar every time you earn trust, and then you can bust the char all in one, one angry act.

Yeah. I think that the idea of relationship deposits is great. It’s if you’re not engaged with [00:08:00] me right now, it’s okay. I’m still gonna actively be here to hold you accountable, be engaged with you, right? Provide some inspiration, help you return when, make it easy for you to turn when you are ready.

I think those are all so smart. Yeah, and I also think that, startings just the mindset piece of the stories. You as a coach, tell yourself about why clients are engaged or not with you will have a big impact on your ability to act on it. Yeah. Yeah. And a really good, helpful one for the coaches working through those inner narratives is to do a rev role reversal.

Yeah. So I’m gonna use therapy now. If I was working with a therapist and I definitely did through my cancer journey, I would want my therapist to be having the goal of giving me more and more skills to need their support, less and less to get back on my feet if they always had this intention of meeting with me weekly, so that their career could be fulfilled.

Would I actually be getting better in processing my trauma and my emotions? Like a really good coach knows that their job is to be there very intensely for periods of time. And then as the [00:09:00] client is doing better or maybe isn’t doing better, but needs space and life is busy. Yeah. To allow them to have that space.

And then they’re still there as a source of support at any time in the future. And I always would think if the role was reversed, I would feel. Used by my healthcare provider, if their only sole intention was to keep me paying at the highest rate as frequently as they would be able to see me.

And so here’s why it’s to the coach’s advantage to graduate clients or seek different people on different cadences, is there’s a honeymoon phase to working with a new coach of course. And so you wanna make sure that there’s a large percentage of your clients actively in that happy honeymoon phase.

’cause what’s gonna come from that? Word of mouth referrals, Google reviews, positive testimonials. If your clients have been with you forever and ever, and everyone’s meh, same old. They’re great. I like them, but they’re over that like initial excitement that actually can hurt you from a marketing standpoint and a new client acquisition standpoint because we need.[00:10:00]

Different clients in different stages. It’s like a healthy forest. We want the old mature oak trees, but we want some fresh, route plants sprouting up outta the soil. Yeah. Yeah. Great analogy. I, it makes a ton of sense. Yeah. I think when I, one of the, one of the, my favorite questions to ask clients who I feel like are a little distant when I’m working with ’em, I’m not doing nutrition coaching, but business coaching is I’ll reach out to ’em and remind them, Hey, you said on our last call that this was your most recent goal, that this is the thing that’s most important to you right now.

Where is that goal on your priority list right now? Just try and get some sense of them. This is the thing you told me was really important, but I’m not hearing from you a lot here. So where is that on your list now? What else is going on in your life that I need to know about? Because clearly you’re not as engaged in this as you once were.

And that opens up real conversation about, what else is going on in the world. One of the things if I can offer a little bit of value to the audience as a free, downloadable P D F is, this is a little. Very non-threatening way to check in. That has a bit of cuteness and humor to it.

And so I made this up for my team, [00:11:00] and it’s called High Low Buffalo. Perfect. That’s the email subject line. Okay. With three emojis, like a happy face or a party cone exploding, a sad face, and a buffalo. And All the way that the email template goes is it goes, Hey name, how have you been? Fill me in with a little game that I like to call.

Hi, low Buffalo. Hi. What’s the best thing that’s happened since we last met? Low. What’s the most difficult thing that you’ve faced since our last meeting? Buffalo, what’s the one thing you’re most excited about right now? If you have time to share a quick update with me, I’d love to hear back from you, and then if you felt like it was appropriate, this either keep in or delete that.

Delete out. The last part of the email goes if you need any support. Feel free to hop into my calendar using my booking link and we can do another nutrition check-in session together, booking link. Excited to hear your answers, especially to the Buffalo question. So with or without the call to action to actually come in your calendar.

[00:12:00] We’ll just send out Yep. These high, low buffalo messages all the time to people that are a little less engaged in our client roster. And we just get so many happy memory, like positive memories being shared and moments Yeah. And updates. And people are like, you know what? I’ve been thinking about you.

I’ve been meaning to get back in. This is a great reminder. If anyone wants a copy of that free email template, I have that fully available on our website. If you go to prosper nutrition coaching.com/buffalo. You can download the email template for free. I just like to give helpful stuff that way.

Fantastic. Yeah. What a great template. That’s such an easy, simple idea, but you made it fun, you made it accessible and you’re really inviting people to like, share what’s great in your life as opposed to like, where have you been? Book your next call. But it really is opening up conversation about what’s working, what’s not working, how can I be helpful?

So I, I love that framing. We did it systematically, Uhhuh, so I think we emailed just. Over 120 clients that had been in our roster five years prior and, hadn’t had heard from them. And I think we did something like [00:13:00] $18,000 in new bus, new business. Yep. But with no new clients, just reaching out to our old client list.

And it took us 20 minutes of work and I was like, How did that 20 minutes just produce that outcome? Huge. So I love when you find things that are low, minimum effective dose, really high. R o i. Yeah. And high low buffalo definitely hit the jackpot. Yeah. Fantastic. Awesome. We’ve been talking a lot about once your program is up and running, the retention of your clients how to think about that, the mindset tips and tricks for keeping them and getting them back.

I want to maybe switch and talk a little bit about running the program long term. How to keep the coaches. Engaged how as a coach to stay, not burned out, to stay fresh, to keep wanting to do the work. How do you think about long-term kind of coach self-care as your program has been up and running for a while?

I look at a couple of things. I look at areas of excitement and continued learning, and then the second word I look at is boundaries. So [00:14:00] let’s go to the first one. Areas of excitement. Continuing education. There can be a dullness to like same old. I always see the same avatar. We always talk about the same topics.

As much as you might’ve been so excited initially in that topic or in that avatar. So one thing I just like to. Freely offer to all of my employees is we do a continuing education, plan every single year when we meet. So I have a big enriched bookshelf over my shoulder. My staff’s allowed to make like book requests to me.

So we go into this shared bookcase in our office, but as a owner, I will also invest. In the education of each and every one of my employees. And so every year we try to grow in a new area of nutrition coaching that might be into postpartum or might be into I b s and FODMAP sensitivities might be a sports nutrition course, might be working with pediatric clients.

And so I don’t force the area of learning on my staff, but every time I do a lot of what I call hike in the woods, [00:15:00] performance reviews, where we go out in nature. And it’s a lot less threatening and it’s just a much more of a career planning growth. How are you feeling? How can I support you? And we always talk about continuing education on these, like hike in the wood, where are things at?

And so each year of employment I will. Fully cover the cost of one continuing education credit. I will cover more than that if they can justify. And normally if I do a second ed education thing, what we try to do is have them come back and share and teach it to the team so we’re all learning from each other and that investment, and that is a massive anti burnout.

Way to keep your team excited. Yeah, and I think as an employer, you gotta back up what your values are. So if I say my value is to support my team and to provide a great quality of life, and I’m looking for growth oriented individuals, but I don’t put my money where my mouth is. It’s tough for them to wanna pay outta their own paycheck to go do that.

There are those staff members that will, but I just wanted to make it a part of the [00:16:00] culture and so it’s important to me and so I’m gonna fund that because it’s important to me. Yeah, I think that’s critical. Jennifer, and I love that you started talking about this by through the lens of, if you’ve been working with the same kind of client, the same avatar on the same kinds of challenges, using the same toolbox for a while, it’s very easy to just get a little bit bored, a little bit burnt out on that and just getting a new lens.

A new perspective, a new tool to put in your toolbox really is the thing that kind of keeps coaches interested and engaged long term. Yeah. And if you say that’s important in your team, then you gotta help make it happen and money is required for that. Yes. Yeah. And then the second word I brought up is to prevent burnout.

I think boundaries. Are really important to revisit. Yeah. I think we often know what our boundaries are, and then there’s a bleed or a creep of actually protecting those boundaries. So when there’s feelings of burnout or resentment, normally when those negative emotions comes up, it’s a little red warning flag that someone has crossed a boundary.

Do you have a client that always [00:17:00] emails you at nine o’clock at night and expects an answer before you go to bed? Do you have someone that sends all their questions via email? But won’t save them up for the actual face-to-face appointment. Do you have someone that’s like continually coming late or trying to take a 45 minute appointment and turn it into an hour 10?

So I was noticing that when I was feeling frustrated or like I wanted to run or hide from a problem, I got curious and I asked myself, why do I feel resentment, frustration, or like I’m trying to avoid a person or a situation. Ah, it’s because I’m not being clear and fair and consistent with protecting my boundaries.

And so sometimes, especially for my newer team members, we just practice privately with those boundary conversations need to sound like with a client or maybe even with themself. It might be that, we do protect their lunch break, but they’re feeling burnt out at the end of the day because accidentally lunch became scrolling at their work desk instead of.

You have 45 minutes to an hour, eat lunch, take a step outta the counseling [00:18:00] room. We have beautiful walking trails behind the house that you said was really important for your physical mental health. Maybe we need to protect the boundary of not scrolling through Instagram for your lunch break.

And you’re gonna feel better and enjoy the job more. So it’s just looking at boundaries with others, but also boundaries with ourself. Yeah. So I think continuing education keeps it fresh and fun. Yep. And then when we’re feeling stagnant or resentful, or. Just frustrated. It’s usually boundary crossing that needs to be reeva like revisited.

Yeah. I think it’s beautifully said and it’s such an important lens for coaches to develop about themselves. There’s a kind of a self-awareness requirement to recognize that you have a boundary that’s getting crossed. And I think, it takes it takes, someone real intention really.

It takes real intentionality to recognize that moment in your life where, oh, I’m feeling some kind of way about working with this client. Never, I don’t look forward to it, or I have that this. Weird unspoken tension when I’m with this colleague or, whatever it is. And it takes that kind of moment to think through, this is something that I don’t like.

What am I gonna do about it? Is there a boundary [00:19:00] that’s missing? And I think that’s such an important piece to learn. That’s fantastic. Let’s do this. I know we there’s probably so much more to say about running a nutrition coaching program long-term. We’ve covered a little bit about retention.

We’ve covered a little bit about self-care for coaches. We have time for maybe one more tip. So it’s what’s maybe one more thing about. Running a nutrition coaching program long-term that you think is really critical for our listeners to know, Ooh, okay. I’m gonna pull from what I’m doing right now.

Great. Which is to take many and extended breaks. So one of the best gifts I ever gave myself when I started to feel that burnout and that overwhelm and that always stuck in the hamster wheel is I asked myself what do I need in this moment? And what I realized is I needed. Catch up weeks.

So I started to actually block out a week in my calendar. First, they were like once every three months, like once a quarter, I’d block out a week. Then it became once every six weeks. Then it became once a month, and I labeled them as growth weeks. So what is a growth week? Exactly that. It’s a week to read [00:20:00] more books, sleep in, and be well rested.

Have time to connect with people I’ve been meaning to connect with, but just our schedules don’t align very well. I do a little bit of reading, thinking, growing things that make the business get better in the big picture, I. But also I just have a lot of fun. Those weeks I might work half the morning and go cost crunchy screen through the afternoon or ride a bike with a friend or sleep in and then start at 10 in the morning and wrap up by two 15.

’cause I had an incredibly productive four hours and I moved my business forward. So for me, I recognize that I’m someone that works too hard to the point where I crash into that brick wall. So cars have airbags for a reason, for safety, and in my schedule I was like, what’s the equivalent of the airbag?

Since I keep crash and burning into these walls and I was like, I need buffer weeks. Weeks where there are no clients in my regular schedule. I get out of all the day-to-day. It’s just space to think to complete important projects is for all the important but not urgent. [00:21:00] Lemme try that again.

So sorry. Hopefully we can edit that out.

It is where I do all the important but not urgent work that Yeah. Sets me up for success. Yeah. So important. I think that’s so smart, Jennifer. Because, here’s the thing is that some of us have this pattern of burnout that we’ve recognized we haven’t done anything about. We’re missing the airbag, we’re missing that moment where we create a little space and for ourselves to disconnect or connect to something else instead, whether it’s nature, friends, learning.

Big picture thinking about our business. So I love that idea. And for those of you who are like, there’s no way I can get a week of my schedule, start with a few hours, start with a day. It doesn’t have to be a week upfront. But if you can get it, take it. And for most of you listening, you’re entrepreneurs, you’re self-employed, you get to make the rules, you get to decide Yeah.

What your schedule looks like. And so [00:22:00] if you are feeling that sense of like long term, burnout. Then find a way to hit the reset button. ’cause you know there’s no program at your gym, there’s no part of your business that’s gonna run well if you’re not taking care of yourself, including your nutrition coaching practice.

And I would say, I love that you mentioned that most of the listeners, are their own boss. The light bulb moment for me was I’m being a crappy boss to myself. Yeah. So I was like, if I am the star player on the team, I’m the one that brings in the revenue and closes the deals and creates all these jobs with these other people.

I was like, what does my star player need? To be their most productive, best, happiest, healthiest self. They need to be well rested. They need to be. Exercise time is protected. They need to eat nourishing food. They need to not walk into forest fires that they have to put out every Monday morning.

They need boundaries and they need deep time to just think and rest and learn and strategize. And if I don’t gift that to my star player, me and I just keep her trapped in the [00:23:00] day to day stuff that always has to get done. The business will always be stuck at a certain level. So it felt like I didn’t have time to do that.

And the busier and more successful I’ve gotten, the more important carving, even larger chunks of that time has been for even more success. Yeah. So it’s like a, it’s a opposite of what your brain is trying to tell you to do. I can’t afford it. Then you need that even more. Yeah. Yeah.

Well said. Let’s leave it there because I think it’s a great message to end on and a great lesson for all of our listeners to, to learn. Let’s remind everyone, Jennifer, where can people learn more about you and find out how to work with you, how to build their own nutrition coaching practice and get that tool you mentioned earlier.

For sure. So all the free stuff is on our website, which is prosper nutrition coaching.com. We have that Buffalo email template in there. We’ve got a free mini nutrition liftoff course coaches can go through, and then our certification information’s on prosper nutrition coaching.com. You can send me an email info@prospernc.com.

I’m on Instagram, [00:24:00] prosper nc, any of that, we’ll find its way back. Yeah. Fantastic. And friends, please do reach out to her. Jennifer’s not kidding, she will respond. She will answer your questions. Yeah. And and so please take her up on it. Thanks again, Jennifer. This was a great conversation.

As always, a great follow up to our first episode. And listeners, if you found it valuable, please leave us a five star review everywhere you listen. And email me, michael@businessunicorns.com. Let me know who you want me to talk to next, or what questions you want me to answer. Thanks again, Jennifer.

Hope to have you back again soon. Thank you.